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7 Effects of Alcohol on Your Stomach and Digestive System

How Does Alcohol Affect the Stomach?
Alcohol produces more acid in your stomach than it should, irritating your digestive system.

You know what you’re getting yourself into when you drink. Headaches, vomiting, passing out and hangovers are all just part of the deal. After all, those symptoms don’t last forever, and you need to keep drinking in order to avoid worse withdrawal symptoms.

But did you know that your drinking is actually doing serious damage to the inside of your body? More specifically, alcohol is putting tremendous strain on your stomach and digestive system.

Let’s take a look at 7 different effects of alcohol on your stomach and digestive system, and then we’ll explain how the right treatment approach can help reverse the damage that’s been done.

How Drinking Affects Your Digestive System

1. Drinking Can Affect Your Stomach’s Acid Production

Your stomach is where you first begin to digest the food you’ve eaten. Thanks to acids in your stomach, your body is able to break down your food and successfully absorb nutrients you need. However, drinking alcohol disrupts this process by diminishing your stomach’s acid production. When this happens, harmful bacteria that would normally be destroyed by your stomach acids is able to enter your upper small intestine.

2. Drinking Can Lead to Gastritis

Alcohol is known to irritate and erode the lining of your stomach. This leaves your stomach vulnerable to the acids that are typically produced to break down and digest the food that you eat. When this happens, you are more likely to develop gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach that is caused by the bacteria, H. pylori. While reversible, gastritis can lead to more serious conditions like GI bleeding and stomach cancer.

3. Drinking Can Lead to Stomach Ulcers

A peptic ulcer develops when bacteria in the stomach inflame and irritate the stomach lining. If you drink excessively or struggle from alcohol addiction, you’ve probably irritated your stomach to the point where the H. pylori bacteria is triggering gastritis. If allowed to progress without treatment, this can lead to painful and dangerous peptic ulcers.

4. Alcohol Can Make Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms Worse

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the large intestine, triggering symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, gas and nausea. While more research is needed to better understand what causes IBS, we know that certain foods and drinks can make IBS symptoms worse. Alcohol is definitely on top of that list, since it irritates the gut and disrupts amino acid and neurotransmitter production your body and mind need. This can trigger an uncomfortable and nauseating episode of IBS.

5. Drinking Can Trigger Excessive Vomiting

Vomiting is a common and obvious symptom to drinking. But vomiting – especially excessive vomiting if you’re constantly drinking – can tear up your esophagus and throat. Vomiting can also be incredibly dangerous if you end up passing out. While you’re unconscious, you may breathe vomit into your lungs, which can be life-threatening.

6. Alcohol Prevents You from Absorbing Needed Nutrients

Your body and brain need key nutrients in order to function properly. That’s why you need to eat a balanced diet of proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits every day. But when you drink, your body isn’t able to break down and absorb the nutrients needed to keep your body and mind going strong. This can lead to physical symptoms like skin sores and decreased vision, as well as mental health challenges, like depression and irritability.

7. Alcohol Can Lead to Various Cancers

Your body breaks down alcohol into a chemical known as acetaldehyde. This chemical is known to damage your DNA and making it impossible for your body to heal the damage. This paves the way for tumor growth. Since alcohol affects your entire digestive system, it can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, colon and liver.

How Addiction Treatment Can Help Heal Your Stomach and Digestive System

While this all may sound grim, these long-term effects don’t have to be your fate. The best way to get your stomach and digestive system back on track is to quit drinking. But that’s easier said than done if you’re struggling with an alcohol addiction.

At an addiction treatment center like The Raleigh House, we can help you safely detox from alcohol and heal your body and mind during residential treatment. We do this through a mix of evidence-based, holistic treatments and proper nutrition.

Once we get the alcohol out of your system, your body is able to begin the healing process. With the right foods and supplements, your stomach inflammation can improve, your stomach will start to digest nutrients again and your gut and mind will be able to produce the neurotransmitters needed to help you think more clearly and make real progressive in your therapy sessions.

Overcome Alcohol Addiction and Heal Your Digestive System at The Raleigh House

Alcohol can literally eat away at your insides until you’re left with a ravaged gut and additional stomach or digestive system disorders you can’t come back from. But none of that has to be your future with addiction treatment that’s effective at helping people just like you recover from alcoholism.

If you’re ready to learn more, we’re here to answer any questions you may have about our alcohol addiction treatment program and approach. Fill out our form or contact us today to get in touch with one of our friendly team members.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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